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Trip Report Windsor Trip Report - 3 Americans enjoy a day in Windsor

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We departed the Ann Arbor Michigan area around 9:30 AM and arrived at the Ambassador Bridge. There is construction at the bridge and concrete barriers with plenty of signs directing cars, and separate lanes for trucks. I have never driven across the Ambassador Bridge before was surprised how ragtag the entryway looked. We paid the $4 toll and drove across the bridge. Lanes were under construction or repair, once on the bridge cars and trucks shared one lane to Canada and separated again at Customs. We waited approximately 10 minutes at the Canadian side, showed our passports and passed through Customs with no issues.

Our first stop was the Sandwich area of Windsor. Sandwich is an old settlement, now part of Windsor. Along the riverfront industrial building blocked the view. We stopped at St. John's Church next to Mackenzie Hall. As we were reading the historical sign in front of the church, a man appeared and gave us some papers containing local historical information about the area, and wished us a nice visit. Then just as suddenly, he was gone. We walked through the churchyard and noted many of the graves contained English and French names. Very few lived more than 60 years.

My brother was interested in not only the local history but in getting bacon flavored potato chips, which aren't available in the USA. Mission accomplished at a small grocery store across the street from Mackenzie Hall. Mackenzie Hall seemed to be occupied by various businesses, so we did not go inside.

I scanned the historical notes we were given while waiting for my brother to purchase potato chips. Reading history: Abraham Lincoln was aboard a ship which was stranded on a sandbar in the Detroit river, thus passengers were taken to the Sandwich town for the day where the ship would catch up to them. Another historical note: During the war of 1812 William Henry Harrison, Cmdr of the Continental Army, occupied the Duff Baby Mansion. His horses were stabled at St. John's church, and he later ordered the church to be burned.

We turned left on Mill Street to see the Duff Baby Mansion, where during the War of 1812 women and children dressed as soldiers and walked through the doors in uniform so that the American soldiers across the river at Ft. Detroit were fooled into thinking there were many more soldiers garrisoned at Old Sandwich Town. The Duff Baby house is a white colonial style house, and it was not open.

Interestingly the Sandwich area of Windsor was settled many years later by slaves seeking freedom along the Underground Railroad. The First Baptist Church was a way station along the Underground Railroad, but we unfortunately didn't find it. These former slaves started newspapers, schools, and businesses. Interesting mural on the
wall of the grocery store with many notables who escaped slavery for a new life in Canada.

From here, we drove along the riverfront. After crossing under the bridge, it ceased to be industrial and much of the Riverfront heading north is parkland on the left with gardens, parks, multiuse paths and trails lined with trees and benches. People walked, rollerbladed, and cycled. We parked in the Dieppe Gardens parking lot and paid $1.00 for an hour. We strolled along the beautifully landscaped gardens, and along the river. Props to the landscape architects and gardeners, as its really beautiful and thoughtfully landscaped. Detroit's skyline is pretty from here. I wished I'd brought my bicycle along. Along the paths were military memorials from various wars (Korean War, WW2, and so on). Uncle, who is in his late 70's, sat on a shaded parkbench to rest. From this pleasant spot we could see many small fish in the river. A large ship or two passed along on its way to Lake Erie.

We drove along Ouellette Ave and turned left on Erie St, the hub of Little Italy. Via Italia. The greater Windsor area is home to perhaps ~50,000 persons of Italian descent. Who knew? Currently there is a lot of construction on Erie St, but we just parked on one of the sidestreets. Italian is heard as often as English, perhaps more so. We decided on the Trattoria at Spago for lunch. No pressing reason, but I'd seen it mentioned on Chowhound. Uncle had the straticella soup which was in a clear broth and very good. I had a shrimp appetizer with a spicy marinara, my brother had spaghetti and meatballs, very tasty sauce and the house dressing on the salad was really good - did I detect a hint of anchovy? Uncle and I split a small pizza which was good. Service was friendy and prompt without being overbearing.

Uncle wanted to buy some t-shirts for the folks back home, and I suggested we patronize one of the small mom n' pop stores in Little Italy instead of a souvenier store downtown. We were glad we did! We found "Canada-Italy" t-shirts, Italian candy, and had an enjoyable conversation with the shopkeeper who spoke in Italian accented English.

Then it was back to the bridge. We crossed without issue and waited about 15 minutes at Customs, showed our Passports and listed our purchases (potato chips, candy, tshirts, leftover pizza). Then to a toll booth for the $4 fare and we're back in the USA.

All three of us enjoyed our day. I'd like to return with bicycle for some riding along the waterfront, and another meal in Little Italy. And gelato :)